British Airways has unveilled the seating plan for its new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, both of which will take to the skies next year.
As previously reported, the British flag-carrier's A380 superjumbo will sport all four classes – from BA's lush First cabin to World Traveller economy and World Traveller Plus premium economy – while on the 787, BA continues the trend reported by Boeing of dropping first class for business, premium economy and economy.
BA Airbus A380 seatmap
The seating chart for British Airways' A380 shows each of the 12 superjumbos will carry 469 passengers across four classes.
As Australian Business Traveller revealed in September, British Airways won't be fitting an all-new Club World business class seat to the A380, opting instead for what a spokesperson described as "an evolution of the current seat".
The lower deck is the domain of 14 lush first class mini-suites, which BA promises will have "extra personal and stowage space" due to the A380's wider main deck compared to the current fleet of Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s.
Back behind the curtain will sit 44 Club World business class seats in a 2-4-2 configuration, followed by 199 World Traveller economy seats arranged 3-4-3.
Upstairs are a further 56 Club World business class seats in a 2-3-2 layout over two four-row cabins. Yes, we know the BA seatmap itself says 53 seats, but with eight rows of seven seats, you do the maths!
There's also a compact World Traveller Plus premium economy cabin of 55 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, plus 104 more World Traveller economy seats arranged 2-4-2. (Our tip: those upstairs seats will be the ones to pick if you're in World Traveller.)
BA's split-level Club World business class
With Club World split over both decks of the A380 there's some promise for passengers critical of BA's business class seat not offering direct aisle access.
Over the three cabins – one downstairs, two upstairs – six window seats and five centre seats boast direct aisle access, while a pleasing twelve aisle seats have nobody picking their way over you.
BA, Qantas and other oneworld frequent flyers can usually snag these seats before others get their hands on them.
Interestingly, close scrutiny of the seatmap shows an extra side section in each the rear-facing middle seat. If this is a handy work area or additional inflight storage, these could be a top choice for business travellers.
British Airways has a dozen superjumbos on order, with the first due to arrive in July 2013 followed by three more before the year is out.
While BA as yet to announce routes for the A380, the airline has hinted that Hong Kong will be the superjumbo's debut route, while Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Beijing are shortlisted for the A380s first commercial destinations.
British Airways is hinting that Hong Kong will be the debut route for its Airbus A380, with first flights around the middle of next year.
BA Boeing 787 seatmap
British Airways' Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner will carry 214 passengers divided into the predictable mix of business, premium economy and economy.
35 Club World business class seats sit at the pointy end in a new 'triple' configuration of 2-3-2, the same as upstairs on the A380. The extra space to the side of centre seats also appears on the A380 upstairs.
That's followed by 25 World Traveller Plus premium economy seats laid out 2-3-2, and 154 World Traveller economy seats split 3-3-3. (More on that economy layout below.)
BA has 24 of the 787-8 Dreamliners on order, with the first due in May 2013 and three more by year's end.
A further 16 of the stretched Boeing 787-9s will follow from 2015, although the seating plan for those longer models has yet to be finalised.
BA's Dreamliner dilemna: good for business, bad for economy
Overall, the twin cabin Club World layout on the 787 is great news for business class passengers who appreciate the benefits of direct aisle access.
A full four window seats and two centre seats don't require you to vault like a gazelle (or hippo) over the person in the aisle. Similarly, a pleasing eight aisle seats don't have a window or centre passenger neeing to clamber their way out.
Bad news for Economy in the final analysis, though: British Airways has plumped for the ultra-dense 3-3-3 layout, where seats are as narrow as you'd find on a Boeing 737 short-range plane hopping between Melbourne and Sydney.
That's fine for a brief flight, but BA previously removed these extra-narrow seats from its Boeing 777 fleet when customers complained. Super-tight seating makes the BA 787 one to avoid in economy on the long haul.
We'll be keeping a keen eye on developments and will bring them to you as soon as we have news. Until then, keep an eye on our Twitter account: we're @AusBT.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.